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ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING STRATEGIES USED BY INTEGRATED SCIENCE STUDENTS IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
Background to the study
The primary purpose of teaching at any level of education is to bring a fundamental change in the learner (Tebabal & Kahssay, 2011). To facilitate the process of knowledge transmission, teachers should apply appropriate teaching strategies that best suit specific objectives and level exit outcomes. In the traditional epoch, many teaching practitioners widely applied teacher-centered strategies to impart knowledge to learners comparative to student-centered strategies. Until today, questions about the effectiveness of teaching strategies on student learning have consistently raised considerable interest in the thematic field of educational research (Hightower et al., 2011).
Moreover, research on teaching and learning constantly endeavour to examine the extent to which different teaching strategies enhance growth in student learning. Quite remarkably, regular poor academic performance by the majority students is fundamentally linked to application of ineffective teaching strategies by teachers to impact knowledge to learners (Adunola, 2011). Substantial research on the effectiveness of teaching strategies indicates that the quality of teaching is often reflected by the achievements of learners. According to Ayeni (2011), teaching is a process that involves bringing about desirable changes in learners so as to achieve specific outcomes. In order for the strategy used for teaching to be effective, Adunola (2011) maintains that teachers need to be conversant with numerous teaching strategies that take recognition of the magnitude of complexity of the concepts to be covered.
As an educator, the researcher has always been fascinated by the relationship between teaching strategies and students’ academic performance; especially when it comes to applications in the context of 21st century education. It seems that there is something in teaching that opens the gate of learning. It is true that successful learning depends on various factors that are not all teacher-related, but the strategies that a teacher uses continue to play an important role in student learning and in their academic achievement. The challenges that educators face in the 21st century are so diverse that using better teaching strategies is more crucial now than ever before.
Gibbs and Jenkins (1992) bring the argument that the context of class and society has changed, but the teaching strategies have remained unchanged. Various recent studies attempting to address the issues that affect teaching strategies and student learning today include educational technology integration (Abbitt, 2011), teachers’ roles (Webb, 2009), the class environment (Doll et al., 2010), understanding the adult learner (Kisamore, Aldridge, Alexander, & White, 2008), length of the class session (Coskun, 2011), increasing class size in schools (Gibbs & Jenkins, 1992), students’ attitudes (Akkuzu & Akcay, 2011), as well as the increased interdependence of society today (Schul, 2011).
Studies on teaching strategies are not something new in educational research. A large number of studies have been done on this area. Pascarella and Trenzini (2005) have written a compendium of research studies conducted in this area over the past three decades. Even before that, Feldman and Newcomb (1973) mentioned decades of similar research studies in the area of teaching strategies. These show both increased interest and knowledge in the area of teaching strategies and learning theories. Svinicki (2000) suggests that these studies on teaching strategies conducted in the past decades are so overwhelming that it would be impossible to go over them all in detail. For many decades, the search for better teaching strategies to provide the best learning has been the goal of education. However, teaching strategy is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Flexibility is crucial in adapting teaching strategies in the class. Since all teachers are different, the strategies they use, and the way they use them will depend on the context and situation of their class (McCornac & Phan Thuy, 2005), as well as their own personality and biases.
The effect of teaching strategies on students’ learning should be the interest of every teacher and student. In the field of education, there have been various studies done in an attempt to measure teaching strategies. Robinson and colleagues (1990) conducted a case study on several teaching strategies in schools to explore the reasons for their use, and perceptions of effectiveness. The result of their study suggested that various strategies do influence teaching effectiveness.
According to Keene (2008), each student learns best using strategies and objectives that reflect his experiences, abilities, aptitudes and interest. Similarly, there is no standard teaching strategy. The various teaching strategies overlap in definition and application; none being mutually exclusive although researchers often delineate several teaching strategies. Demonstration technique is one of the many teaching learning style under the investigative or activity based. It is a strategy which is capable of improving learning through its diversity effect activity. It has the prerequisite characteristics for individualized instruction and therefore has high potential for making teaching-learning process challenging and rewarding. There is a radical departure from the direct teaching model in which the teacher engages student to learn. Students are encouraged to ask questions. In short, the student is viewed as an inquirer, a seeker of information and a problem-solver. These attributes are crucial to problem-solving and are at the heart of demonstration model of teaching. Consequently, there is now a growing concern for the use of demonstration technique in the teaching of Government in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
In recent times, much research attention has been focused on teaching of government in Nigerian Tertiary institutions with a view to ascertaining the adequacy and appropriateness of the teachers’ strategy of teaching and indeed the effectiveness of instruction. Investigation into the use of demonstration instructional technique in the teaching of government in Nigerian Tertiary institutions seem to have focused mainly on teachers’ frequency of the use of this technique and sparingly on the application of important variables influencing its effective use. In a sense, no research attention has yet been paid to the effectiveness of teaching government using demonstration technique. The use of demonstration instructional technique as an innovative instructional practice can only be effectively implemented if the teachers possess the appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities related to its use in the classroom situation. Competence is learnt attitudes and aptitudes shown as capacities for controlling, actively struggling with and mastering life problems through the use of cognitive, social and scientific skills. Thus, as a learnt characteristic, the amount of it possessed by individuals can be measured and development through appropriate and constant involvements in activities. Skills for the demonstration technique of government consist of the teachers’ awareness and understanding of the issues surrounding demonstration teaching. These include knowledge of questioning, identification of events that are suited to demonstration. Others are how to demonstrate curiosity and independent thoughts in students (Brown, 1999). They also include ability to elicit students’ questions (Kona, 2000). The present concern for Nigerian government teachers with regard to acquisition of these qualities is born out of the fear that since most of these teachers have been used to expository teaching approach and considering the existing inadequacies in teacher education in Nigeria, their awareness, equipment, orientation and willingness to embrace and effectively use the demonstration technique as a mode of teaching are bound to be questionable. This activity technique is at times misconstrued and hence wrongly applied.
This paper attempts to elucidate the concept of activity vis-à-vis demonstration strategy of teaching, and empirically establish its effectiveness on SS 2 students’ achievement in Tertiary institution
The discussion strategy has been widely accepted and recommended by some educators as the good strategy of teaching in tertiary institutions (Phipps & Osborne, 1988). The discussion strategy is the strategy of teaching where the central and essential characteristic is interaction (Binkley and Tulloch, 1981). During discussion session students participate in the learning process by contributing problems, analyzing the factors associated with the problems, developing possible solutions to the problems, placing the solution(s) into action, and evaluating the results of the solution.
Nowak, Watt and Walther (2004), articulated this position and present evidence that, demonstration strategy is generally effective in teaching sciences, mathematics and mechanics as well as subject areas within vocational and technical education. As stated by Gokhale (1996), the professional success of a technologist is directly related to his/her ability to transfer knowledge gained in the academic environment to real-world situations. Much student learning occurs through observing others. A demonstration provides the link between “knowing about” and “being able to do.” Research reveals that demonstrations are most effective when they are accurate, when learners are able to see clearly and understand what is going on, and when brief explanations occur during the demonstration (Saskatchewan, 1988).
Since good teaching among other factors play significant role in enhancing performance, this study attempted to find out which strategy of instruction better facilitate learning in tertiary institutions by beaming light on the different strategies of teaching in tertiary institutions.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Given the high value placed on government at the Nigerian Senior Tertiary institution Curriculum, and the nature of the subject, the need to teach it effectively through an effective strategy is indisputable. A few of the problems affecting the teaching and learning of government are the meaningfulness of the content, the sustainability of the strategies and probably, the teacher who handles both the content and strategy. There is scarcity of published works on the use of demonstration in teaching government particularly in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state where this study is carried out that is known to the researcher. The incidence of ineffective teaching of government in Senior Tertiary institution has resulted in poor achievement in examination. This necessitated the need for a more effective and result-oriented.
What a teacher does in the classroom depends to some degree upon his approach to learning situations. However, students’ negative attitudes toward learning may be related to the strategy of instruction (Dyer, 1995).
Though teachers with high morale, motivation and a mastery of knowledge, learner difficulties and capacity to facilitate learning are important (Zadra, 2000), correct use of an appropriate teaching strategy is critical to successful teaching and learning. Knowledge of how teaching strategies affect students’ learning may help educators to select strategies that improve teaching quality, effectiveness, and accountability to learners and the public. It may also help them keep up with information technology, globalization and to avoid the status quo (Foster, Pinkest and Husman, 1991).
Organizing for effective teaching in vocational education is centered on certain factors such as what to teach, when to teach and how to teach. The teacher does not only teach the most relevant, meaningful and useful materials for specific students, he must also recognize and adopt a good and well-researched strategy of teaching that guarantees better understanding and also stimulates and motivate the students.
Several strategies of instruction have been employed for students’ interest depending on the situation. Varying factors ranging from socio-economic background, intelligence, attitude of students to teaching strategies employed by teachers have been attributed to this poor achievement. Tawari (1986) observed that teaching strategies that encourages students centered activities for developing reasoning and process slides through scientific approach are conspicuously lacking.
For effective teaching to take place, the teacher must stimulate, encourage and maintain active participation of the students, through the selection of appropriate teaching strategies. This would require a balance between what is taught and how it is taught.
Thus, successful teaching in vocational education does not depend only on the teachers’ mastery of the subject matter but also the teaching strategy employed. Hence, Ogbonna (2000) opines that one of the most influential factors in teaching is the teacher’s strategy of teaching.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
To assess the relationship between the use of discussion strategy and academic performance of students.
To examine the relationship between the use of demonstration strategy and academic performance of students
To ascertain the relationship between the use of lecture strategy and academic performance of students
To determine the relationship between the use of questioning strategy and the academic performance of students.
What is the relationship between use of discussion strategy and academic performance of students?
What is the relationship between the use of demonstration strategy and academic performance of students?
What is the relationship between the use of lecture strategy and academic performance of students?
What is the relationship between the use of questioning strategy and the academic performance of students?
HYPOTHESIS OF STUDY
The following null hypotheses are formulated to be tested at 0.05level of significance:
There is no significant relationship between discussion strategy and student academic performance
There is no significant relationship between demonstration strategy and student academic performance
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study may be considered significant in a number of ways: it will help to increase the teachers’ level of awareness and understanding of the use of most of the instructional technique. Findings may also provide the teachers with a feedback on the teaching competences in most commonly used teaching strategies as a basis for improvement in their instructional practice so that they can enhance performance. Curriculum planners and educators as well as government and educational administrators need empirical data on the overall teaching strategy and activity teaching competence of government teachers in Senior Tertiary institutions to facilitate proper curricular policies and programmes for effective teaching and learning.
SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS
The focus of this research is on the effect of activity techniques (i.e. discussion, demonstration, lecture and questioning approach) of teaching on Senior Tertiary institution Students performance in government. The educational level of focus is SS 2 students. It is believed that these groups of students have been exposed to the knowledge, attitude and skills of the subject. The work covers performance using all the commonly used strategy of teaching.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
In this study, it is imperative to define the terms that will be appearing during the course of this work as they are used within the context of the study for clarification purposes.
Activity: This is student-centered teaching-learning approach, where the student has some control over the process and directs more or less the instructional activities with the teacher providing adequate guidance.
Teaching strategy: It is a teaching device or strategy adopted by a teacher to teach a lesson, this includes the use of games, text books etc. that stimulates learning.
Academic performance: Learning outcome or output in students taught government which results from teaching techniques/strategies the teacher adopts.
Effect: Outcome of result of using appropriate teaching strategy on students as measured by government performance test.
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